Looking Forward to a Year of Strength and Hopefulness

by Reema Farooqui

Pantone’s Colours of 2021

Enduring and uplifting is how Pantone has described its choice of colours for 2021. To be honest, as unlikely a marriage of colours as one could have imagined, Illuminating (13-0647) and Ultimate Grey (17-5104) do symbolize strength and hopefulness, two qualities we are striving towards this year after the train wreck of a year that was 2020.

I have often wondered about the impact of Pantone’s Colour(s) of the Year on jewellery trends. It’s easy to see these colours as trend forecasters in the fashion industry. Already the two colours appeared in the spring/summer collections of Gucci, Givenchy and Prada among other Couture Houses. However, the jewellery is a totally different animal and how the Illuminating and Ultimate Grey will affect jewellery trends is something interesting to look into.

Therefore, instead of making my own assumptions, I decided to ask a panel of experts from the jewellery industry to weigh in on this issue.

Jennifer Heebner is an award winning journalist and is the Editorial Director at JenniferHeebner.com, an online magazine where her goal is to introduce jewelry lovers to little-known and talented makers and sellers. Jennifer has written about fine jewellery for more than twenty-three years and has also served as president of the Women’s Jewelry Association. Jennifer works in New York City and travels to major jewellery shows all over the world and is an expert on interpreting how jewellery and clothes work together. Jennifer’s looked at past trends to predict the impact of the two colours on jewellery trends for 2021. Here’s what she felt about this question:

“I think Ultimate Gray and Illuminating yellow speak to ongoing trends in jewelry. Gray spinel has been incredibly popular for the past two years, with myriad gem dealers telling me it remains a top seller, especially in the bridal arena. And that yellow is borderline neon, which is definitely having a moment in jewelry in the form of enamel. (Neon hues are also evident in couture runway shows like Balmain and Chanel.) So, I think these two Pantone hues will just perpetuate trends already in progress.”

Gray Spinel, Natural, 5.42 ct. Cut by Clay Zava. Image Credit GIA

Shohista Turan is a social media influencer, jewellery brand advisor and chief editor and founder of the online magazine, Jewellery Pursuer. Shohista writes about high and fine jewellery and travels extensively to visit jewellery shows ad meet with creative directors of high jewellery Maisons all over the world. With more than a hundred thousand followers on Instagram, Shohista’s content is both riveting and something akin to jewellery “Breaking News” since her finger rests on the proverbial pulse of international jewellery trends. When I asked Shohista to weigh in on the question, her reply looked at the existential as well as the material aspect of the issue:

“The colour yellow (Illuminating) signifies positivity. It is the colour of the Sun, the colour of energy and warmth but more importantly the colour of hope. Hope in this case is for a good, successful and prosperous future. Grey (Ultimate Grey) is the opposite of Yellow. But it does not mean something negative. Just something more solid and concrete to build the happy future on. Both these colours will feature in jewellery because both have scope to be shown with beautiful effect.”

Helen Molesworth is an international gem expert, gemmologist and a jewellery historian. She has held very prestigious positions in the jewellery world including jewellery specialist at Sotheby’s and Christies. In 2011, Helen became Professeur d’Histoire du Bijoux at HEAD Genève before joining Gübelin as Managing Director. Here she not only launched and ran a coloured gemstone academy, but also wrote and produced the academy courses. Currently, Helen is head of the Business Development Department at Gembridge. When I asked her to consider this question, Helen’s reply looked at both sides of the argument:

“To be absolutely honest, I have never been one for believing that fashion trends influence the gemstone markets much. I can certainly see that Pantone colours reflect seasonal styles and vice versa, but a little less so with gemstones. For one thing, fashion tends to be based on short-term cheaper seasonal trends, likely high turnover rotated out by the following season, while gem purchases tend to be single high ticket items to be worn for a lot longer. Simply, gemstones are so durable and fashion so flighty and flimsy (sapphires: harder than steel; silk: soft as, well, silk….) that the former will certainly outlast a season and therefore tend to be less swayed by seasonal trends. 

Having said that, however, 2019’s Pantone colour of the year was a coral-like orange-pink balanced perfectly in our industry by the rise of the padparadscha and a definite popularity for these pretty pastel mixed-tone gems. So, for that year, one could say that the Pantone colour and gem trends were at least somewhat in sync. This year, I am not as yet sure of the Yellow, but might dare a comparison with the Ultimate Gray as one gem trend on the rise, and I am sure one to continue quite substantially: the popularity of bright, sharp and high lustre grey gems, such as grey spinel. Previously a majorly underrated gem (grey was never considered a proper gem colour), these days some of the most superb grey spinels are out and about and realising a justifiable popularity which I think is only just beginning.”

Pantone Colours of 2021

Michella Cruz (@michellacruz) is an international model who has worked with many extremely prestigious modelling organizations such as Elite Model Management NYC, Premier Model Management London as well as Women Direct in Milan, to name just a few. In addition, she is a social media influencer and a gemmology student at GIA. Michella posts the most fun, interesting and very informative Instagram and IGTV content about gems, birthstones and all things gemmology related. In fact, Michella is busy these days setting up her YouTube channel to share her knowledge and love of precious gems and gemmology. Michella’s expertise cuts across both the fashion and jewellery worlds and her unique position allows her to understand jewellery trends which directly relate to Pantone’s Colours for 2021. When I posed this question to her, Michella expressed her thoughts very beautifully:

“If jewelry designers decide to go for the Pantone colors I see a lot of contrasting work happening, the warmth of yellow and coldness, metallic appeal of gray in the choice of precious metal, or a mix of them, and gemstones. Duality in every single piece, embracing both sides of the spectrum in all senses. The sun after a rainy day. Personally, I love both, in jewelry and life. You can’t have light without darkness.”

Sharon Layani is a jewellery designer who is the founder and owner of Layani Fine Jewelry. Based in Jerusalem, Sharon has travelled the world in search of creative inspiration as well as to learn new jewellery making techniques. Sharon crafts fine and high jewellery crafted from 18K gold, precious gemstones and unique pearls. Sharon’s jewellery finds inspiration in Nature and very artistically captures the fluidity and movement that can be observed in all things natural. To my eyes, his pieces look like a jewelled celebration of high craftsmanship and cutting edge design. When I posed the question about Pantone’s Colours for 2021 to him, Sharon gave me a very thought-provoking and well argued reply:

For the second time in its history, the Pantone Color Authority has decided to choose two colors instead of one: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating.

How does this choice affect the world of international design?
We live in a time where people are looking for any way to be filled with energy, clarity, and hope that will triumph over the ongoing uncertainty.
The vibrant and empowering shades chosen for 2021 represent the search for vitality.

The yellow Illuminating is bright, cheerful, sparkling, and warming – an homage to solar energy, while the gray Ultimate Gray symbolizes a stable and solid rock and represents the need of each and every one of us to cling to secure and permanent anchor. These two colors, together and separately, symbolize eternal and natural elements and simulating, in their own way, the shades of pebbles on the beach and sunlight. They emphasize our ability, despite all difficulties, to stand the test of time and produce peace, calm, stability, and resilience.

Pebbles Ring with Three Baroque Pearls, Set in 18K Yellow Gold,
Layani Fine Jewelry

Yellow is a primary color that is independent of other colors, meaning it cannot be created from a combination of other colors. Perhaps this is also the reason why the color yellow was a symbolic color of the Chinese emperor and of the Chinese monarchy as a whole. And this year symbolizes hope more than ever. Somewhat ironically, “gray”, or shades of gray, are used as an expression of versatility, as opposed to the sharp dichotomy of black and white. Gray is also associated with autumn and this year, in particular, is associated with strength.

In the “Layani me” collection, I used this color palette inspired by celestial bodies, here I combined gray diamonds, white pearls and yellow gold with a matte and shiny finish.

Throughout the collection, you can see how the colors speak the same language and complement each other naturally. Hoping for a successful and better year for all of us. 

I was very fortunate to have five experts from the jewellery world sharing their thoughts and ideas about Pantone’s two colours for 2021. However, the one common theme in the responses of all five was the agreement that at some level, Pantone’s Colours do tend to have an impact on jewellery trends. This year in particular, when the colours have been chosen to represent resilience and hope, it is unlikely that the global jewellery industry which saw many shocks of its own in 2020, will not embrace these colours with open arms.

Featured Image: Pantone Colours of 2021, Illuminating and Ultimate Grey

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